Embrace

If I asked you to describe your body, what’s the first thing you’d think of?

I’ve just been to the cinema to watch a documentary called ‘Embrace’ where people were asked that same question, and their responses were… fat; disgusting; not perfect; I need to lose weight. It was a bit shocking. People of all shapes and sizes all responded in the same way.

Then the film maker, Taryn Brumfitt, points out that almost everyone she asked made a negative comment about the way their body looked, but no-one comments on what their body allows them to do. Her statement is “This body of mine, it’s not an ornament, it’s a vehicle.”

It makes you think doesn’t it?

Our bodies are amazing. They are so clever, and they allow us to get to places, have life’s adventures and perhaps even create new life. How come we take all that for granted but criticise if they are not the ‘perfect shape’ to LOOK at?

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Now I’m not a person who spends that much time thinking about what I look like. I’m really not that bothered most of the time. Let me give you an example…

I once met a friend of a friend who does cosmetic treatments. Within an hour of meeting her she had focused in on a frown line above my nose (not prompted by me) and told me, “I could easily remove that for you”. If she could have read my mind she would have heard two things: First my desire to twat her square in the face, and second a very sarcastic tone which said, “I’m about three stone over weight love, do you think a care about a little line on my forehead?”

But I just smiled and said, “Oh it doesn’t really bother me”. Now to be fair, she was a lovely lady and she was talking with a very positive intension – she meets women every day who obsess about they way they look and she has a way to make them feel better and more confident. What’s wrong with that?

But, let me be honest, even though I don’t care about that line on my face enough to want to remove it , tit’s still the first thing I notice every time I see a photo of my face. Let me be REALLY honest, even though I’m not bothered enough to diet, I still delete the pictures where I think I look like a total heffer, and share the ones where someone else is standing in front of me and taking focus away from my size.

It seems it’s part of our wiring to care about how we look and how others judge our appearance. Because they do. We do. I do! And now I’m questioning why. If I know it’s wrong, why do I care? Why do I judge others?

The answer, according to Taryn, is everywhere. We all know about the ‘bad’ magazines, and the photo-shopping and the adverts for diets  and beauty products that don’t work. God-damn money making twats, selling the impossible.

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Yes, of course. But it’s not just ‘them’. She pointed out some of the ways we talk to each-other…

“Oh you’ve lost weight, you look amazing.”

“I daren’t have a cake, I don’t want to get fat.”

“I’ve got to get back to the gym, my thighs are like tree trunks”

Holy fuck. We say this in front of our kids, and then wonder why they start using appearance comments as insults.

The real standout of the film for me was a lady who had been badly injured in a fire and was scarred across her face and body. She received supposedly well-meaning comments that she was lucky to have such a good husband who stayed with her. Which made her question – Is that all I was before? A pretty face?  Was there not more to me than how I looked? She ended with the killer line… “Actually I am pretty awesome.”

I’m not ashamed to say that I cried.

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Thought-provoking, heart-breaking, hope-inspiring. And a whole lot of fun too. I laughed out loud several times, not least when Taryn visited a surgeon who told her what ‘normal breasts’ look like. She has even better self-restraint than me!

Please, PLEASE find a way to see this film.

Watch the Embrace trailer.


Here’s how you can see Embrace

There are screenings across the UK now. But you wont find this film as a normal cinema listing. It’s an independent, crowd-funded film, being promoted via Demand Films, and Taryn herself is in the UK hosting some of the events. (She is a-may-zing. I heart her.)

The idea is that people like me, who feel passionate about sharing this story with more people, will create demand for more screenings, and host our own events. And hopefully that will create demand for more and more screenings. You see?

Find a screening near you

Or host your own event.

There’s no financial outlay. Demand films help you set everything up at your local cinema and help you promote it to your friends and local community. If enough people buy a ticket the show goes ahead. If not enough tickets are sold, it is cancelled and no money is taken from people’s payment cards.

Show us your man-tits

This really, REALLY gets my goat. 

(Man asked to remove his top during a talent show audition)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… If this were a woman who had a great rack, we’d all mentally congratulate her and admire her attributes, possibly even be a bit jealous and remember a time when we had better tits, before age and children made them sag, wither or entirely disappear. 

But if an audience of mainly men was wolf-whistling and shouting for her to take her top off, there would be absolute fucking uproar. The TV programme would get loads of complaints, from furious people saying that we should judge her by her singing talent and not her other ‘assets’. 

So why the fuck do we think it’s acceptable to reverse it and treat men this way? 

If you didn’t see this on Let it Shine, BBC1, I’ll explain. This man, Harry, walked out on stage to an almost instant reaction from the panel and audience about the way he looked. Before he spoke people were whistling and fanning their faces. He was asked to show his torso, and he said he would if the judges gave him a high score for his singing performance. 

Why the fuck should he feel he needs to make such a promise? It’s like a sleazy casting couch, but in public, and celebrated on prime time TV! 

I see so many articles about how we make women feel that their appearance is all that matters and we need to change that perception. Young girls thinking they have no worth if they don’t have a flat tummy, perfect tits and a thigh gap. We all know it’s wrong. We all know that we need to tackle this. 

We have already seen a massive movement away from the Miss World competitions, Benny Hill characters and Carry On films of olden days. People are tackling the magazines, cat walks and beauty industry to use ‘real women’ in campaigns and stop the body shaming. We’re better than that now. We know that we respect women for what they can DO, instead of how they look. 

So again, why the hell do we think it’s acceptable for us to reverse it and treat men this way now. 

I can appreciate when a man looks good. I can appreciate a woman looks good. I might comment on it, the same way I would comment if someone is funny, clever or talented. I would not ever ask or set any expectation them to remove their clothes in public, so I could get a better look. 

Here are the times it is OK to ask a stranger (male or female) to remove their clothes so you can get a better look:

  1. When you are a medical expert who needs to examine them
  2. In a bra fitting service of an underwear shop 
  3. In a strip show where the person has made it perfectly clear that they have consented to show their body during their performance. 

The point is, if we get angry when women are subjected to ‘sexist taunts’, we have to be angry when it happens to men. 

That’s what equality means. Equal. Treated the same. 

I’m a Tapas Mum

Since going to see the film ‘Bad Moms’ I’ve been thinking about which stereotype of the mums I most relate to. Stay at Home Mum; Working Mum; Single Mum; Yummy Mummy etc etc. I’ve decided none of them sound quite right for me. So how about a new one… The Tapas Mum.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never ‘wanted it all’ as the phrase goes to describe those who want a perfect family, great career and to be a permanent Goddess in the bedroom and the kitchen. I’ve never quite believed in that!

I do like the idea of having just a taste of each though. A little bit of everything. Like choosing a few small Tapas plates, instead of a massive portion of one meal.

For example:

  • I don’t need to be a high-flying, top of my organisation, cracking-through-the-glass-ceiling, role model career woman.
    But I do want a job that I enjoy and that I feel I’m pretty good at. 
  • I don’t need to be perfectly turned out in full make-up and 4 inch heels whenever I leave the house.
    But I do want to feel good when I go out to nice places. 
  • I don’t need a perfectly presented show home and a manicured lawn.
    But I do like to be able to relax in the evenings without spearing my bum on a pile of toys or yogurt-smeared cushions.
  • I don’t expect to have weekly meet ups with my girls for cocktails, dinner and dancing.
    But I do enjoy the occasional chance to get together with a friend or two for a brew or a shit-load of wine. 
  • I don’t need a pre-planned date night and a massive bunch of flowers delivered on a whim.
    But I do appreciate the times we get to go out and be a couple in a kid-free / no judgement, adult environment. 
  • I don’t expect my kid to be an Olympic-level athlete, mastermind of science or musical prodigy.
    But I do want him to have nice manners, have enough confidence to have a go at stuff and laugh a lot. 
  • I am never EVER going to be Nigella Lawson, in cooking skills or body confidence.
    But I will occasionally make a nice family meal that tastes half decent and give my husband a snog by the sink. Sexy! 
  • I most certainly don’t bake delicious pastries for the school summer fayre.
    But I do show up, donate a load of supermarket-bought chocolate for the tombola, and happily hand over every coin in my purse for the lucky dip. I even buy and eat the cakes that other people have made (that’s really not a chore, I really love the school fayre!)

Being a Tapas Mum is pretty great. So what do you say… can we create a new stereotype?


(This post was also shared on SelfishMother.com)

Just a man

This week the Official White House photographer Pete Souza revealed his favourite photos of Obama

Looking at these photos I found myself singing that Flash Gordon song – not the noisy ‘Flash, Ah Ah. Saviour of the universe” part, but the slower bit of ‘Just a man, with a man’s courage”.

I think these photos show why Obama has been so popular (whatever your own politics). Because whatever tough job he’s had to do, he’s shown us that he’s also ‘just a man’ – a human that we can relate to.

He’s not an unreachable, perfect, presidential superhero. He’s shown all sides of himself: a person who can be joyful, fearful, compromised and totally fucked off – even this week, shaking hands with a man he clearly thinks is a total cockwomble!!

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Just a man: a husband, a father, a team member, a friend.

All of those things are just as important as ‘a President’.

To me that’s inspirational.

I’m a mum, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a colleague and an Unbalanced Woman who spouts out a load of crap in my blog. I’m far from perfect at any of them.

I’m not a superhero with one super power. I’m an Unbalanced Woman who does a million things as best she can. Like everyone does.

That’s what these photos show me.


“Just a man, with a man’s courage

He knows nothing but a man
But he can never fail.

No one but the pure of heart
may find the golden grail
Oh oh oh oh”

(Queen)

Full set of photos here:http://9gag.com/gag/ajqEV90

Make-up free?

Oh dear. I’ve just had to have a word with myself!

I read this article about people’s reactions to Alicia wearing no make-up to a red carpet event and I had 3 thoughts within a split second…

1. Good for her

2. How dare people judge her

3. I couldn’t do it. Surely she could have got away with some mascara!!

And it’s the last one that shocked me. Why do I feel like that? Who set the rule that I feel I have to follow?

Now first of all, let’s be clear. I don’t go to red carpet events very often. OK, ever. And actually I’m not a big make-up wearer at the best of times. But there are days when I feel I NEED to wear it.

Last night for example. I had a hospital appointment at 7pm. I was working at home during the day so it was scruffy clothes and bare face. But I felt the need to slap a bit on to go to see a doctor. For fucks sake, why?

I remember thinking, “I look rough”. So foundation, mascara, lipstick and suddenly I feel ready. Ready for what? Did I think the doctor would give me different test results if I look less rough??

Of course it’s ridiculous.

And yet, tomorrow when I go to London to a big meeting, I will definitely wear make-up because I do feel more confident when I feel I look nicer.

Is that wrong?

I totally support any woman’s decision to go make-up free or to contour the fuck out of their face. Whatever makes you happy. Men too.

I am questioning why people even need to talk about it. Why do people feel the need to support or condone Alicia by commenting on Twitter. Is the point she’s making that it’s not important what anyone else thinks?

I don’t know. Ultimately I don’t care. My test results were all clear, so clearly wearing make-up worked for me!

http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/alicia-keys-didnt-wear-makeup-to-the-vmas-and-got-publicly-shamed-for-it–WJQOIng57dW

Offended!

Those who know me will tell you that I’m not easily offended. But watching Channel 4’s new dating show, ‘Naked Attraction’ made me feel like Mary Whitehouse.

If you haven’t seen the show, the idea is that a single person gets to see six potential mates before choosing one to go on a date. The difference, (of course you can see what’s coming – not a pun… yet) is that the contenders are all naked. And there’s actual science bits where graphics and a voice-over explains why our primitive brain is naturally wired to find certain attributes, such as strong thighs, to be attractive to those seeking a mate.

So far I’m OK. This could actually be interesting I thought. I bit like Big Brother when it first started. If I go beyond the obvious voyeurism, this could be psychological education. It’s not Channel 5 after all.

Each of the contestants is behind a different colour screen and henceforth known as ‘Green’ or ‘Pink’ etc. The screens then reveal the naked people from the bottom up, starting with waist-down, full-frontal glory.

The episode I saw was a male Picker, was choosing from six female colour-coded Contestants. The screen goes up and we are now eye level with an assortment of Minge-Master-Pieces. I say this because they were all fully groomed and presented in different coloured frames. None of these ladies was showing off her natural, bushy Lady Garden. Not even a well manicured lawn. Five of them were completely bald, and I would describe Number 6 as having ‘a neat gravel border’. I commend her for being the only one to at least acknowledge there was once a garden there.

But now we approach the part where I got offended. The host asked the picker what he thought, and if he liked what he saw. And he was happy. He pointed to the gravel and said “That’s as much hair as I allow”.

Allow!!!

There are many words that went through my head at that point and most of them have the same meaning as Lady Garden but have fewer letters.

What an absolute…. xxxx!

Funnily enough there was no mention of science or primitive attraction during this section. But I had a primitive urge to tie a very tight knot in his garden hose.

I thought we’d moved beyond judging people by what they look like, but apparently not. It’s HER garden. SHE can choose what she does with it.  We all have preferences but are we happy to accept people actually reject a person based on the amount of grass (or gravel) on their front lawn?

Ladies, grow what you want down there, trim it, shape it, or remove it. Hell, put a picket fence round it if you want. Sod what anyone else thinks.